Dr Bart Besamusca created an international database on Arthurian fiction in Europe: www.arthurianfiction.org
Emerging Standards: Urbanisation and the Development of Standard English, c.1400-1700

The objective of the 'Emerging Standards' project is to illuminate the complex processes involved in the emergence and development of Standard languages. Individual accounts of emerging Standard languages in, for instance, Early Modern Europe (cf. Deumert and Vandenbussche, eds., 2003) attach great importance to the role that language policies and authorities with power and prestige play in the standardisation processes (language history “from above”), while more covert factors such as the effects of national and international trade, work migration, and the book trade, have often been marginalised.

By using the example of the emergence of Standard English, this project explores the role of such factors in the origin and spread of a formal written Standard. To this end, a novel inter-disciplinary approach will be applied that combines historical linguistics, socioeconomic history and textual history. As this project explores an alternative history of language standardisation in England, the focus that was traditionally on the pre-eminent urban community – London – will be shifted to regional centres. The study focuses on the vernaculars of York (North), Bristol (Southwest), Coventry (West Midlands), and Norwich (East Anglia).

  • Project leader: Anita Auer (University of Lausanne)
  • Project members: Mo Gordon (PhD), Mike Olson (PhD), Tino Oudesluijs (PhD, University of Lausanne), Femke van Hilten (Research Assistant)
  • Duration: 2013-2016
  • Funding: NWO
Bilingualism in Medieval Ireland – language choice as part of intellectual culture

Is modern-day spoken bilingualism any different from historical written bilingualism? Do the same rules and theories apply? When an Irish scribe used Latin and Irish in one sentence, what does this tell us about his proficiency, his education and his audience? In short, what can medieval Irish bilingualism tell us about the society that fostered it?

  • Project leader: Peter Schrijver
  • Project members: Mícheál Ó Flaithearta (daily supervisor), Nike Stam MA (PhD) and Tom de Schepper MA (PhD)
  • Duration: June 2012 - June 2016
  • Funding: NWO, Vrije Competitie
In Tune with Eternity: Song and the Spirituality of the Modern Devotion

The textual culture of the Modern Devotion is more differentiated than previous scholarship has acknowledged, with respect to transmission, production, reception, and content. 'In Tune with Eternity' will provide new perspective to the field by developing an innovative view on the pragmatic functionality and the thematic uniqueness of Middle Dutch devotional song, particularly by including sermons and sister books into song research, and by methodological integration. This integration is imperative: these texts stem from one cultural environment and should not be studied separately.

  • Project leaders: Dieuwke van der Poel (UU) and Thom Mertens (Universiteit van Antwerpen, Ruusbroecgenootschap)
  • Project members: Cécile de Morrée (PhD) and Lisanne Vroomen (PhD)
  • Duration: May 2012 - September 2016
  • Funding: NWO and FWO
The Lindisfarne Gospels Gloss: New Perspectives on the Morphosyntax and Lexis of Old Northumbrian

As part of a previous project, an international research group compiled the Seville Corpus of Northern English (SCONE). This corpus makes available the texts (manuscripts and epigraphic material) collected and analysed in the course of previous research on the history of northern English from the 7th to the 16th centuries.

This electronic version of the texts includes both the edition of the manuscripts and inscriptions, and information about the language at different linguistic levels: spelling/phonology, morphosyntax and lexis.

  • Project leader: Dr Julia Fernández Cuesta (Seville University)
  • Project members of Utrecht University: Marcelle Cole
  • Partner institutions: Seville University, University of Westminster
  • Funding: the Spanish Ministry of Science and Technology and the European Regional Development Fund
  • Duration: 2012-2016
Marginal Scholarship. The Practice of Learning in the Early Middle Ages (ca 800-ca 1000)

Our knowledge of Latin texts from (late) Antiquity is mostly based on early medieval manuscripts. More manuscripts of the classics survive that were copied in the ninth century than in any succeeding century until the fifteenth. The margins of these manuscripts are filled with annotations in tiny script, adding layers of interpretation to the ancient texts so treasured in the early Middle Ages. Scholarship to date has failed to give these texts the attention they deserve. 'Marginal Scholarship' puts them in the spotlight and presents them as essential for our understanding of intellectual life in early medieval Europe, when the practices of scholarship and learning were formed for centuries to come.

  • Project leader: Mariken Teeuwen
  • Project members: Irene van Renswoude (postdoc), Evina Steinova (PhD)
  • Duration: 2011-2015
  • Parter institution: Huygens ING
  • Funding: NWO
The Dynamics of the Medieval Manuscript: Text Collections from a European Perspective

This cross-European research project studied the dynamics of a number of late-medieval Dutch, English, French and German miscellany manuscripts, focusing on the highly mobile short verse narratives they contain. Characterised by the migration of works from one manuscript context to another, this cultural phenomenon was ideally suited to the HERA JRP theme 'Cultural Dynamics'. In each unique, newly formed text collection new meanings are generated, enabling us to understand the cultural identity of the compiler or commissioner of a manuscript and to investigate how cultural, social and moral heritage is conveyed to new generations.

The comparative, multilingual approach made it possible to determine trans-European characteristics in the organisation of text collections and to analyse how new author and reader identities were created.

  • Project leader: Bart Besamusca
  • Project members: Gerard Bouwmeester, Daniël Ermens, Vera Westra (Utrecht)
  • Partner institutions: University of Bristol, King’s College London, University of Vienna
  • Duration: 2010-2013
  • Funding: EU HERA
Cultural Memory and the Resources of the Past: 400-1000 AD

The Early Middle Ages are the first period of history from which many thousand original manuscripts survive. Ancient literature and scholarship, the Bible and patristic writing have come to us through this filter. This rich material has mainly been used to edit texts as witnesses of the period in which they were written. But it also constitutes a fascinating resource to study the process of transmission and transformation of texts and other cultural contexts. It can shed new light on the codification and modification of the cultural heritage and its political uses, and constitutes an exemplary case study for cultural dynamics in general.

Just as the Carolingian period (8th/9th century AD) has filtered and reshaped the past according to its concerns, so the Modern Age has used and sometimes misused its ancient and medieval heritage.

The project consisted of four interrelated studies:

  1. Learning Empire – Creating Cultural Resources for Carolingian Rulership concentrates on the role of the popes as cultural brokers in the 8th century (Vienna)
  2. Biblical Past as an Imagined Community deals with learning in 8th century Bavaria and with the meaning of ‘populus’ in early medieval texts (Utrecht)
  3. Otherness in the Frankish and Ottonian Worlds which explores changes in attitudes towards aliens (Leeds)
  4. Migration of Roman and Byzantine Cultural Traditions to the Carolingian World, exemplified by the reception of the Historia Tripartita and by Freculf’s Chronicle (Cambridge)
  • Project leader: Walter Pohl (Vienna)
  • Principal investigators: Mayke de Jong (Utrecht), Ian Wood (Leeds), Rosamond McKitterick (Cambridge)
  • Partner institutions: University of Vienna, University of Cambridge, University of Leeds
  • Duration: 2010-2013
  • Funding: EU HERA
Dutch Songs On Line

On 19 July 2014 the results of the project 'Dutch Songs On Line' became available: 53,351 full song texts were made accessible online via the DBNL (Digital Library of Dutch Literature) and the Dutch Song Database. On top of that, 900 song books have become available in scanned format.

The Dutch Song Database (Nederlandse Liederenbank in Dutch) contains more than 150,000 songs in the Dutch and Flemish language, from the Middle Ages through the twentieth century. It contains love songs, satirical songs, Beggar songs, psalms and other religious songs, folksongs, children’s songs, St Nicholas and Christmas songs, and so on and so forth. The main sources for all these songs are songbooks, songsheets (broadsides), song manuscripts and fieldwork recordings. For every song the source is indicated where the text and/or the melody can be found. In some cases one can click directly to the complete text, or to the music, or to a recording.

  • Project leaders: Dieuwke van der Poel, Louis Grijp, Els Stronks
  • Duration: 2009-2013
  • Funding: NWO
Medieval Memoria Online (MeMO)

The MeMO portal aims to help scholars in carrying out research into the commemoration of the dead during the period up to the Reformation (c. 1580) in the area that is the present-day country of the Netherlands. The portal is also intended for local historians, family historians (genealogists), museum curators, teachers, pupils and students, and for anyone with an interest in history, art and culture.

Among other things, the portal contains a database with descriptions, photographs and other information concerning source types that are fundamentally important to memoria research. These source types include both texts and objects. Since the Reformation these sources have been scattered across the world, and they have therefore often become unknown to researchers.

  • Project leader: Truus van Bueren
  • Partner institutions: VU University Amsterdam, University of Groningen, Data Archiving and Networked Services (DANS)
  • Duration: 2009-2013
  • Funding: NWO
The Dynamics of Apocryphal Traditions in Medieval Religious Culture

Commemoration of the past is a central notion to medieval society. In the medieval period, the ritual commemoration of the ‘very special dead’, the saints, functioned in particular as a constructive instrument to build a religious community and to form or reform its identity. The commemoration of biblical saints (mainly the apostles) in the medieval period is central to this project, and more particularly the question how non-biblical (extra-canonical, or apocryphal) narrative traditions constituted main elements in this commemoration, in textual as well as pictorial contexts.

The diverse functions of extra-canonical traditions and their assessment in the Middle Ages will be examined. A collection of early medieval Latin rewritings of the apocryphal Acts of the apostles, indicated as Virtutes apostolorum but previously known as the so-called ‘Collection of Pseudo-Abdias’, serves as point of departure.

  • Project leader: Els Rose
  • Duration: 2008-2013
  • Funding: NWO VIDI